Dr. Anna Hamre, Chris Simmons, Ken Elias, and Sandra Giersch contributed to this story.
Happiness is found singing in the company of good friends. The seventy-two members of Coro Solare range in age from 50 to 94, and share their gift of music through concerts and community service. Coro Solare is the newest choir ensemble in the Fresno Community Chorus, Inc. organization. They specialize in choral music which is intended to be sung in groups.
Their passionate conductor, Dr. Anna Hamre, is described by choir members as a leader who inspires and allows people of all abilities and talents to participate in music. Dr. Hamre formed Coro Solare two years ago after stepping down from Director of Choral Activities at Fresno State. She had always sensed a need for a daytime choir for Boomers and older adults and she seized the opportunity to start a choir where people could have fun and she could share the music she loves.
Benefits of Joining the Choir
Love of music and singing are obvious reasons to join the choir. But members soon find an invigorating and welcoming atmosphere and begin developing friendships with other choir members. Singing with other people, and getting to know new people is wonderfully satisfying. Ken Elias describes the choir as an opportunity for personal growth in later life. He and his wife, Sarah Shena, joined the choir last spring and found an experience they enjoy sharing together. It is not often couples or family members find mutually satisfying activities. In fact, there are other choir members who joined with family. Sandra Giersch brings her 90 year old father; and they are both trying to convince her sister to join as well.
As part of Dr. Hamre’s efforts to provide meaningful experiences, choir members have the opportunity to connect with an elementary choir. They visit twice a year, sing for each other, and play game songs together. Game songs have actions which accompany the music, and both choirs participate in singing. Choir members enjoy meeting the children, encouraging them, and sharing the love of music which spans a lifetime. Music gives people hope, and in the case of the children’s choir, hope for a better future.
Interested in Joining?
Qualifications for joining the choir include a love of music, but not necessarily experience with music. Dr. Anna Hamre provides lessons on the basics of music, how to read music, breathe, hold notes, and make beautiful sounds. She enjoys working with the choir members and helps them explore ways of working and stretching their voice. During some practices, Dr. Hamre has the choir march in place while singing. The movement encourages breathing deeply, and helps in hitting higher notes. In addition to increasing physical activity, being a member of the choir challenges the mind, through exploring different types of music, and even learning how to sing in different languages.
This vibrant group of adults offers so much to the community. The choir has three concerts a year, one in fall, a winter set, and a spring concert. The fees to join are $70 annually. The group practices once a week on Tuesdays from 2-4. Mr. Elias’s advice for those thinking about joining the choir, “Try it, you will like it. You will have fun and laugh, and laughing is (one of life’s) greatest gifts.”
Below is a member taken video clip of choir practice.
Video provided courtesy of Chris Simmons.